Long before Ponce de Leon discovered Manuel Antonio in 1519, the Quepoa were happily living there and enjoying of nearby rivers, jungles, beautiful beaches, exotic wildlife, and of course, the ocean and all the bounty it had to offer.
The Quepoa were known as the fiercest tribe in the region and the second most feared tribe in all of South America. Ponce de Leon must have easily figured that out when he was met by a thousand screaming warriors armed with blowgun darts with a deadly venom gathered from a native frog species.
Luckily, it’s much safer to visit Manuel Antonio in this century and you’ll find the locals are a lot less intimidating. So pack your bags, because we’re sharing our five favorite places to visit during your trip to Manuel Antonio.
1. Manuel Antonio National Park
You’ll have the time of your life visiting Manuel Antonio National Park because it’s teeming with activities, beaches, wildlife, and adventure. There are expansive white beaches to explore that are backed up by a stunning evergreen forest that actually grows right up to the high tide line.
You’ll find primary forests, secondary, forests, mangrove swamps, lagoons, and beach vegetation. But that’s not all, you could spend the whole day taking in the varied flora and fauna found there, but then you’d miss the 109 species of mammals and 184 species of birds also native to this park.
As if that’s not enough, if your timing is right, you might be able to view dolphins and even migrating whales just off the coast.
There are plenty of packages, activities, and you can even hire a private guide to take you around.
2. Visit and Learn How to Help Kids Saving the Rainforest
If you think kids aren’t capable of making big changes in this world, think again and then visit the Kids Saving the Rainforest located in the Manuel Antonio rainforest.
This 501 (c) nonprofit was founded in 1999 by two 9-year-old girls who wanted to educate people around the world about the ecological importance of the rainforest.
They also set up programs preserving and protecting the rainforest and its wildlife. Caring for abandoned, sick, and injured animals at the Wildlife Rescue Center are one of their missions and they have helped mono titi monkeys increase from a population of 1200 to 3700.
If you’re feeling inspired, you can also make a donation or just donate some of your time while you’re visiting.
3. Zipline at El Santuario Canopy Adventure
Since Costa Rica is the birthplace of ziplining, you really should take at least one day and hit El Santuario Canopy Adventure. While the zip lining over the canopies of 500 acres of primary and secondary jungle and rainforest, you’ll also have the opportunity to view a lot of cool plants and animals.
Anyone from four-year-olds to 87-year-olds is welcome to come for the adventure and stay for the views. Butterflies, wild orchids, and hummingbirds are all waiting for you to zip past them on the longest twin zip lines in all of South America.
If you’re worried about safety, don’t be. The folks here make it their number one priority and perform safety and proper operation inspections daily. They also took every care to ensure the proper equipment and instructions are given before each guest enjoys their ride.
They even made it possible for you to easily control your speed so you can take the time to enjoy the amazing sights that zip lining over a rainforest will offer you.
4. Go Whitewater Rafting
If ziplining wasn’t enough adventure for you, we’re not through because you’ll find plenty of thrills and chills while whitewater rafting. Since there are two rivers near Manuel Antonio, you’ll have a few trips you can choose from.
You can choose either a half day trip or a full day trip down the Naranjo River or the Savegre River. These are fun trips for the whole family and kids from as young as five can go since they only reach a category II-III rapids. Best of all, the Savegre River is actually the cleanest river in all of South America.
You can also choose to go tubing or sea kayaking if whitewater rafting isn’t your thing and if you’re not into going on a day trip, they do offer sunset kayaking.
5. Kayak Through Mangroves at Damas Island
The Damas Island Estuary is just 15 minutes away from Manuel Antonio. Here you’ll be able to kayak through the mangroves. Mangroves are created when ocean waters meet freshwater rivers.
These are protected inland waters and as a result, you’ll enjoy viewing plenty of wildlife living within the mangrove forests. So go ahead and take the day to enjoy floating under the lush canopy of the rainforest as you watch for birds, snakes, anteaters, white face monkeys, and even crocodiles.
Recommended ages are from six to sixty-six and lunch or dinner and transportation is included in the price. Just remember to pack plenty of environmentally friendly suntan lotion, your sunglasses, and of course, your bathing suit.
Departure time is dependent upon the tides but each trip lasts for about four hours. Don’t forget to bring your camera.
Where to Stay When Visiting Manuel Antonio Costa Rica
Staying at the wrong place when you’re on vacation can seriously dampen the fun you’re having on your trip. So it’s important to find the right hotel that can accommodate everyone’s needs.
At the Preserve at Los Altos, you’ll find that we’re not your typical resort. You’ll find that the Los Altos experience is defined by access without the excess. You can totally and completely expect luxury amenities — concierge, ocean-view spa, gourmet restaurant, infinity pool, fitness center, private beach — but without the stuffy pretension of being something we’re not.
We can also help you plan your activities that can include everything from ATV Quad adventure tours to horseback riding, and even surfing lessons. Your wish is our command.
So go ahead and find your perfect accommodations now. We know you’ll enjoy your stay with us.